Banksy is gone—or he's sitting next to you on the subway right now, who knows—but his mark on the city is irrevocable. His pieces have inspired awe, near-brawls and exactly 31 days of excitement in a city that's seen it all. The cops never caught Banksy the human, but they do have the next best thing: His final piece, a giant balloon that spells out his name.
A trio of cretins were arrested for trespassing yesterday after attempting to abscond with the balloon, which was strung across an abandoned building off Borden Avenue and 35th Street in Long Island City. If an iconic image emerges from the past month, it will probably be the Banksy balloon being stuffed into the back of a police van, a symbolic coup for a department eternally foiled by the elusive artist's corporeal form.
An officer at the 108th Precinct tells us the balloon is being "processed as arrest evidence," and that it will remain in possession of the NYPD until "someone can prove they are the owner."
A police source tells us that arrest evidence only remains in the station house for a short time before it's transferred to the main property clerk's office at One Police Plaza. If and when a trial occurs, it then heads to the DA's office. An employee with the Property Clerk's office said that items are usually brought to them within a week, but denied knowing anything about any "Banksy balloons."
The exact dimensions of the piece—and whether or not it remains inflated—are unknown, but our source said that any evidence that's too large for the property clerk is brought to other police facilities in Queens or in the Bronx. "If evidence is ever too big to put in a room, they’ll find another place to put it," the source said.
But the eventual fate of the balloon, potentially worth thousands, remains a mystery. "Evidence is evidence," the source said. "Whoever is the rightful owner will get it back." If there is no rightful owner? "I don't know."
Meanwhile, the three suspects—31-year old Jimmy Chiang, 25-year-old David Aguilar and 24-year-old Ronald Galarza have been charged with criminal trespassing after attempting to remove the piece from the building.